HIT A HOME RUN WITH "DAMN YANKEES"
From April to September, baseball is king to thousands, maybe millions of fans and no one more so than Joe Boyd, a die-hard, true blue, loyal and dedicated Red Sox rooter. For years he has watched his beloved team struggle against insurmountable odds, especially against those "damn Yankees." In a moment of impetuous despair, Joe declares that he would sell his soul for the Red Sox to break their curse and win the pennant. Fortuitously or not, the devil in the guise of one Mr. Applegate overhears Joe's exclamation and offers Joe the chance of a lifetime.
Grab your popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jacks and get a seat behind home plate for the Richard Adler and Jerry Ross words and music and book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop, "Damn Yankees." This special Red Sox edition is credited to Joe DiPietro. The baseball season will be in full swing until Saturday, June 21 at Goodspeed Musicals on the Connecticut River in East Haddam.
The conniving and despicable Mr. Applegate, a devilishly slick David Beach, plays on Joe Boyd's obvious weakness, willing to sacrifice everything to make the Red Sox winners. He persuades him to leave his devoted wife Meg to become a sharp long ball hitter, one with the power to take the team out of the cellar and lead it to triumph.
In a virtual puff of smoke, the aging overweight Joe Boyd (James Judy) morphs into the young and virile Joe Hardy, a dynamic Stephen Mark Lukas and talks his way onto the team led by a brusk but benevolent Coach Van Buren (Ron Wisnicki). Once he shows his prowess, Joe is embraced by his mates, (Michael Mendez, Danny Lindgren, Victor J. Wisehart) until the inquisitive sports reporter Gloria (Lora Lee Gayer) starts to question Joe's record, his background, his home town, his credits, practically what he ate for breakfast.
Meanwhile back at home, Joe's loyal and loving wife Meg, a supportive Ann Arvia, is lucky to have the friendship of good pals Doris (Allyce Beasley) and Sister (Kristine Zbornik). While Meg is less than a baseball fan, her gal pals are avid and eager admirers of the new idol on the mound. When Joe arrives at Meg's doorstep to rent a room, they are overjoyed to recognize their hero.
Applegate isn't happy with his newest recruit and sends in his top Temptress with a capital T to keep Joe in line. The luscious Lola, a sensuous Angel Reda, uses all her wiles to lure Joe over to the dark side. Can Joe use his magic arm to rally the team to victory? Can Lola convince Joe to forget Meg? Will Applegate make good on his devious scheme? Will the Red Sox prevail over those damn Yankees?
Daniel Goldstein directs this theatrical home run, on a diamond perfect set by Adrian W. Jones, with patriotic red, white and blue costumes by David C. Woolard and brisk baseball inspired choreography by Kelli Barclay. Songs like "Heart," "Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO," "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets," "Two Lost Souls" and "A Man Doesn't Know" are show stopping hits.
For tickets ($27 and up), call the Goodspeed Musicals, 6 Main Street, East Haddam (exit 7 off route 9) at 860-873-8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org. Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (with select matinees at 2 p.m.), Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. (select 6:30 p.m.).
Grab your baseball bat and glove and swing at a home run winner as "Damn Yankees" comes up to the Goodspeed Musicals home plate. Wearing red socks is optional.